It's Ok To Not Be Ok by Kim Lamontagne is a collection of stories written by 11 contributing authors about their personal experience with mental health struggles.
I heard about this book from Cat Davis, who blogs at High Risk Cat. She contributed the Story "Looked Up", which is the first story in the book. In her story, she describes her experiences with bipolar disorder, including becoming psychotic.
Regarding an involuntary hospitalization, she writes: "It sunk in that I was stuck here until someone let me out. I gave up my freedom when I stepped through the doors of this facility. I was a patient, but more importantly, I was a prisoner. I had no idea that I was about to be sentenced to life with bipolar, no parole."
She acknowledges the fears she has related to her illness, which certainly resonated with me, but she's pushed ahead with living her life.
Suicidality, grieving after suicide, and relationship challenges, including abuse and divorce, were themes that came up in multiple stories. Despite all of the pain, all of the stories had elements of hope and healing. The pathways to healing varied, but sharing their stories with others came up again and again.
Some quotes that stood out for me:
"I don’t believe in weak. Showing emotion is strong. Healing our wounds is strong. Crying is strong. Grieving and moving forward with grief is strong."
"This diagnosis for me was a God send. I no longer feel like an outsider in this world. I’m not an alien."
"Our wounds provide a story that can be used to help others and ourselves. It seems strange to be thankful for the wounds I have experienced in my life, but I am, because each wound has taught me something important."
One of the most powerful lines came from a contributor who, while trapped in an abusive marriage, had thoughts of killing herself and her children. She writes:
"Now if you are reading this, and you have had a single thought of “she should have done…….”, you do not deserve to read my story."
This is a great collection of stories that are diverse, yet share many elements. Mainstream mental illness played a supporting role in some of the book's stories, but there was really a focus on finding healing through establishing meaning in ways that resonated for each individual. There is a clear message of hope throughout.
The book also lives up to its title – not only is it ok to not be ok, but it's important that we talk about it.